One of the working groups submitting policy to Federal Conference in Glasgow next month will probably have a harder time than the other groups. The “14+ Education” policy which looks at school leavers, Further Education and Higher Education and presents its findings and policy ideas to be voted on (PDF of the full text is http://bit.ly/14yqTtH). I’m not going to argue here the pros or cons of the current system, old system, any new system or free-to-students system of paying for Higher education. Those arguments have, and will continue to, rage on both inside and outside the party. Here I will discuss some of the great core elements of the motion and mention my take on the fees element of the motion. There are 15 key themes in the paper; I’ve picked 3 that stand out for special mention here:
- Information, advice and guidance (IAG)
- Literacy and numeracy
- Student premium, travel assistance
- The working group took this issue very seriously, as with the rest of the paper. There are some concerns from some people that fees were not considered well, or the group was minded to just want to keep the current system and not bother with analysing how it works.
- There were many, many discussions with external professionals and bodies, including discussions regarding fees, so these were taken on-board to discuss within the hugely experienced and talented team in the working group, so it wasn’t just the group’s own ideas that were considered
- The current proposal was suggested, after such consideration, to keep the current system and review it in the next parliament, when the first cohort of students complete their studies and begin to pay back, if earning over £21,000. This will allow for a proper, factual and evidence-based review.